Culture & Traditions
At Rochester Classical Academy, we promote a culture of community that encompasses our students, their families, faculty, volunteers, and the board. This community is distinctively Christian, and seeks to honor God inside and outside of school. Our Christian mission is fully integrated into all of our curriculum, as we are dedicated to pursuing Christ in every aspect of our school.
Our teachers are committed to the RCA mission & vision and model the integration of faith and learning that our students practice at home and at church. Our teachers educate the whole student so that a community of learners forms to love the Lord with all the gifts He has given them.
We recognize that parents are every child’s first and best teachers. We maintain strong communication between teachers and parents because our aim is to partner with parents whose goal it is to raise their children to meet the incredible potential they have been given as images of God.
We take the responsibility of shaping the character of our students very seriously, aiming to train the hearts of our students, not just their behavior. As we lead by example and make corrections, we connect speech and behavior to The Greatest Commandment (“love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself” – Luke 10:27). Our goal is virtue throughout the lives of our students, not just acceptable behavior. We also believe that learning-readiness means extending love to others and to the teacher with posture, words, and attention. We take the time to focus on these things at a young age knowing that this approach will bear great fruit now and in the years to come. The fundamental elements we seek to cultivate in our students can be summarized by the acronym R.E.A.D., which stands for Respect Authority, Esteem Others, Accept Responsibility, and Demonstrate Diligence.
First thing every morning, all RCA students and teachers gather to do four things: pray, say the Pledge of Allegiance, recite a list of habits, and sing our Hymn of the Month. By placing this gathering time at the beginning of the school day, we aim to set up the students for success in the hours that follow. The sequence of events in Morning Meeting is structured so that we first dedicate the day that follows to God (prayer), give thanks for the country in which we live (pledge), remind students and ourselves of ways they can prefer others with their words and deeds (habit), and glorify the Lord through the instruments God gives us, our voices (hymn). We are especially glad when parents and grandparents join the Morning Meeting because it highlights our belief that RCA is an extension of the home. Click here to learn more about Morning Meeting.
At Rochester Classical Academy, we have a culture of singing. During our Grammar Stage (PreK through 5th grade), RCA students learn an enormous number of facts through songs and chants. We also have plenty of dedicated music time throughout the week during which we learn many of the tunes mentioned above and lay the foundations for reading music. Our particular method of teaching music parallels the way we teach language and over time our students will not only be able to read musical notation, but improvisation and composition will be a regular part of every child’s experience (not just the “music kids”). We aim to send students out into their families, churches, communities, and the world, equipped and excited to bless people with the gift of beautiful music.
Recess & Outside
Over the last few decades, the amount of built-in recess time practiced throughout the country has slowly but steadily been eroded. Although the resulting time in class has increased, the effects of less free time have not been good. At RCA, we build in an hour of free-time to every day in our full-day programs, knowing that God made little children with the desire to run around and gave them the energy to do so.
We aim to cut with the grain and prepare minds for academic work by giving them the opportunity to exercise their bodies. Except for times of inclement weather, our students go outside for recess every day the temperature is at or above 20ºF.
At RCA, our approach to technology in the classroom sets us apart from most other schools. We do not use Smart Boards, books are never read to students by an electronic device, and iPads are not given to students for literacy, math lessons, or games. Videos may be used in rare circumstances when they aid in visualizing a concept, but are never used for entertainment, in place of recess, or when a concept can be taught by other methods. Instead, We believe learning is usually done better the old fashion way with pencil and paper, which teaches fine motor skills, and penmanship mastery. We also believe that on the whole, paper-books are better than digital reading.
To give one example that supports this point, on average, reading on a screen leads to 30% less comprehension and retention than reading on paper.
A similar phenomenon is present with note-taking where the evidence is that hand-written notes lead to dramatically higher comprehension and retention of the content despite capturing far less of it on the page. We view technology with eyes wide open; it is a tool with benefits and drawbacks. As we look around our culture, we have found that the benefits of adopting technology in schools are often over-emphasized and the drawbacks routinely minimized. In our view, technology should only be adopted with thoughtful consideration and measured against the centuries-tested methods we already know work well. As we grow into the upper grades, we will introduce technology carefully and only in a manner that serves the mission of the school. There is a place for learning computer programming after our students study Latin and Logic, for example, or for entering a robotics competition as our students study physics, but not for putting screens in front of our students just because it is easy.
Christmas Concert & Spring Showcase
Each year, RCA puts on a Christmas Concert, featuring performances from all of our students. Our Christmas concert is rich with scripture and traditional hymns and carols, and invites us to reflect on the incredible event that the holiday represents—God’s incarnation among us as Jesus Christ.
Our Spring Showcase happens close to the end of the school year and is an event for students to demonstrate singing and recitations, show their artwork and penmanship, and display their academic projects. This culminating event is a wonderful way for families to celebrate their children and what they have learned throughout the year.